Coastal areas along Northwest Florida may see up to 30 inches of rain

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Northwest Florida coast to see 10-20 inches of rain, up to 30 inches in spots (10 a.m.) 

Sally’s slowdown means even more rain for the Pensacola area, according to a bulletin from the National Weather Service,

Coastal areas along Northwest Florida can expect significant flash flooding, with rainfall totals between 10 to 20 inches and localized amounts of between 25 to 30 inches. 

Inland areas can expect 6 to 10 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts of 10 to 20 inches. 

Heavy wind building from the storm also forced the shutdown of the Pensacola Bay Bridge at around 9 a.m. Tuesday. 

Hurricane Sally slows to a crawl overnight Tuesday, begins dumping rain on Pensacola (5:45 a.m.)

Hurricane Sally slowed to a crawl overnight Monday, increasing the chances for a historic flooding event across the Florida Panhandle.

As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the cyclone is moving west/northwest at just 2 miles per hour, surprising even forecasters, said Jonathan Howell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“The primary change this cycle has been the speed,” Howell said. “The storm looks to be an even slower mover than we originally forecast, so it’s just going to move very, very slowly across the area probably through Thursday, and that’s going to really bring the threat of really significant flooding, potentially historic flooding, to much of the area.”

Latest NHC update:Hurricane Sally winds weaken slightly; forecasters warn of storm surge, flooding

Sally did weaken slightly overnight to a Category 1 storm due to ingesting some drier air, but thunderstorms around the eye of the storm early Tuesday morning indicated she’s gaining strength again. 

Regardless of the intensity, Howell said it’s important for residents to focus on the rainfall — not the wind speed — of Sally. 

“Inland freshwater flooding, as well as storm surge flooding, make up over half of our fatalities from all tropical cyclones,” Howell said. “Flooding is the greatest threat and risk associated with a hurricane, as compared to the winds. … we definitely need to pay close attention to this, and make sure that if you live in a low-lying area or in a flood-prone area, that you’re ready to get to higher ground.”

A slight shift east in Sally’s track means she’s expected to make landfall along the Alabama/Mississippi border Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Nearly an inch of rain fell in Pensacola between midnight and 5 a.m. As much as 20 inches of rain could fall in the area over the next three days. 

As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, South Garcon Point Road at Katie Street is closed in Santa Rosa County due to weather. Escambia County and the city of Pensacola have not reported any road closures. 

The Florida Highway Patrol will close bridges if sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour or greater. As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, no bridges have been closed so far. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday declared a state of emergency in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties ahead of Hurricane Sally’s arrival on the Gulf Coast.

Annie Blanks can be reached at ablanks@pnj.com or 850-435-8632. 

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